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What I’ve Learned in the 30 Years Since My Bat Mitzvah

Wedding reception table set awaiting guests and food.

November marked the 30-year anniversary of my bat mitzvah. 30 years since I feathered my hair, listened to Wang Chung and wore my sparkly silver dress with cream shoes that had little bows on them. 30 years since the Chernobyl accident and 30 years since Oprah first launched her talk show. Where has the time gone?

If I could go back in time and tell that naive girl a few things, here is what I might say (in no particular order):

1. Always believe in yourself.

2. Never judge others. You never know what someone else is going through and you will be a much nicer person if you are tolerant and non-judgmental.

3. Be kind to your parents. They are doing the best they can.

4. Be nice to your brothers. They are your family and know you in a way that no one else ever will.

5. Do not give anyone too much power over you.

6. Value your friends. Make the time for them. Make them make the time for you. There is nothing as terrific as a true friend who really gets you.

7. Don’t hold grudges. They will make you angry and mean.

8. Learn to forgive yourself for mistakes you make. Mistakes teach us what not to do again. This includes the guilt you feel over cheating on an exam or cutting someone off in traffic.

9. Stirrup pants do not look good on you. I am not sure they look good on anyone.

10. Exercise is important. Find something you like to do and make it part of your routine.

11. Always say please and thank you. Mean it, too.

12. Hold the elevator door, even if you are in a hurry.

13. Take the high road in an argument, even if you are sure you are right. Is the battle worth it?

14. Learn to forgive others.

15. You are good enough. You are smart enough. You are pretty enough.

16. Treat your body well. You need it to carry you through.

17. Respect yourself.

18. Put yourself first.

19. Don’t ever pick up cigarette. Stick with your instinct that they are gross.

bat mitzvah

20. Do not get bangs. They just don’t work on you.

21. All attention is not always good attention. This is particularly important in college.

22. You will fall in love. He will be worth the wait.

23. You will have extreme highs.

24. You will get through your extreme lows.

25. Think twice, no three times, about that tattoo you want in college.

26. Listen when people with more life experience want to share their stories with you.

27. Diet Coke is not a breakfast drink.

28. Laugh often and loud.

29. Stop biting your nails.

30. You are going to be a mom someday, and you are going to love it more than you can imagine.

I have accomplished so much in my life but I still have so much more to do. And while I would ideally share this list with my daughter, I think some lessons she will have to learn on her own, just as I did. I can guide her and steer her, but ultimately, she needs to make her own choices.

I am not today who I was 30 years ago. I am better. I wonder who I will be 30 years from now?


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